Russ & Daughters will open their third location in the lower level of the Jewish Museum in early 2015
The upcoming Russ and Daughters café inside the Jewish Museum will serve kosher food to the general public.
Russ & Daughters, the iconic Jewish-American specialty shop that has been a staple of the Lower East Side for a century, is headed uptown for a café inside the Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side, reports The New York Times.
Just months after opening the Russ & Daughters Café at 127 Orchard Street, the beloved appetizing store will open its third location in early 2015, complete with a retail counter, on the lower level of the Jewish Museum.
“We realized that it’s the perfect new home,” Niki Russ Federman, a fourth-generation owner of Russ & Daughters, told The New York Times. “We’re both important cultural institutions. We want to preserve tradition yet move ahead, so there’s a synergy in our values.”
Unlike Russ & Daughters’ other locations, the museum café will serve only kosher foods, culled from both the flagship and the newly opened restaurant; museum admission is not required for entry.
For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.
Russ & Daughters to Open Kosher Cafe in the Jewish Museum on the UES
The revered NYC appetizing shop and café Russ & Daughters has good news for its fans uptown. Niki Russ Federman, current fourth-generation owner of the century-old appetizing shop, has announced that come 2015 there will be a sit-down Russ & Daughters café at The Jewish Museum on 92nd St. and Fifth Ave.
Following a marked history of success, Russ & Daughters opened a café around the corner from their original Lower East Side shop earlier this year (we named the café one of NYC’s Best New Restaurants of 2014). But unlike the original appetizing shop and the newly-opened Orchard Street cafe, the Jewish Museum’s 75-seat sit-down café and take-out retail counter will be kosher.
In a press release, Russ Federman said,
As R&Ds’ recent trend of expansion continues, long-time fans of the eatery can look forward to the Jewish Museum spot offering “traditional favorites alongside newly reinterpreted classics.”
A Free Russ & Daughters Exhibit Is Coming to New York's Center for Jewish History
Set to open to the public on September 13, the exhibit will feature historic photos of the store and family, previously unheard audio clips, and an appetizing counter photo opp.
As far as New York institutions go, Russ & Daughters is pretty iconic. The legendary Jewish appetizing shop has been in the city for 105 years, passed down through four generations of the Russ family—it has some of the best smoked and cured fish in the city. The legacy all started with one shop in the Lower East Side, before Josh and Niki Russ (founder Joel Russ’ great-grandchildren) opened Russ & Daughters Cafe a few years ago, and Russ & Daughters subsequently expanded with new locations at the the Jewish Museum and Brooklyn Navy Yard in 2016 and 2019, respectively. To celebrate the legacy of the shop and its impact on New York, the American Jewish Historical Society has organized an exhibit showcasing how Russ & Daughters balanced innovation with tradition, establishing Jewish food as a New York City staple𠅎nter “Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story,” which will open to the public at the Center for Jewish History on September 13.
𠇏or generations, my family has worked tirelessly to represent the Jewish immigrant community and add our own traditions to New York’s food culture. This is now iconic New York food, and Russ & Daughters is quintessential New York,” Josh Russ Tupper, fourth generation Co-Owner of Russ & Daughters, said in a statement. “We’re honored to have our family’s history preserved at one of the foremost archives in the country.”
Courtesy of the Center for Jewish History.
The exhibit, which will be free and open to the public, is organized into five main sections in the Center for Jewish History’s Great Hall. Four are dedicated to a generation in the Russ & Daughters business, while the fifth and final section is a replica of the famous appetizing counter, with a backdrop depicting the shop to match—guests are encouraged to try on a Russ & Daughters white coat and pose behind it for a photo opp. Throughout the other sections of the exhibit, guests can also expect “previously-unheard audio clips from the second generation Hattie Russ Gold and Anne Russ Federman, known as the “‘Sturgeon Queens,’” historic photographs, and posters featuring Yiddish theater performers Molly Picon and Aaron Lebedoff, who were regulars at the shop. These Russ family archive pieces will be displayed alongside items from the AJHS collection, such as photos from the Lower East Side taken between 1932-1934, and a collection of high holiday tickets from synagogues across the boroughs.
As an added personal touch, there will also be three café tables set up in the exhibit, where visitors can fill out cards sharing their own family food stories—the cards will then be collected and stored in the AJHS archives. If you’re interested in attending, “Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story” will run through January 2020.
“Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story” opens to the public September 13 at the Center for Jewish History, 15 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011.
SCHMEAR YE SCHMEAR YE: Russ & Daughters Opens New Location At Brooklyn Navy Yard
About three years ago, the Brooklyn Navy Yard announced that Russ & Daughters—the 105-year-old Jewish "appetizing store" mecca—would become the anchor tenant in the refurbished Building 77, which would be transformed into part-public food hall and part-manufacturing hub for local NYC businesses. Now, that transformation is complete: the new Russ & Daughters location officially opened inside the Navy Yard this week with all the lox and rugelach treats you'd expect.
Technically speaking, the fourth generation family-owned business has had an ongoing soft opening for over a month at the new location at 141 Flushing Avenue, but Monday marked the official opening day. "Over the past two years we have designed and built out a 18,000 square foot base of operations, which includes our bakery, nationwide shipping facility, kitchens, a beautiful appetizing store, and (future) private events space," the company said in a release about the new space.
As Grub Street writes, the extra room was one of the biggest selling points for Niki Russ Federman and her cousin Joshua Russ Tupper, who have run the business since 2010. Over the last five years, Russ & Daughters has evolved its business strategy from being primarily a retailer to also being a maker—bringing "most of the cooking and baking, apart from the fish-smoking, in-house"—in order to maintain quality control. People who visit the new location can stop next to the glassed-in bakery next door and "watch the bagels dance around in their boiling vats."
So they now have a lot of space—18,000-square-feet—for everything including "baking and cooking and cold storage and mail-order fulfillment and the managing offices." The business is expanding in other ways, though the owners are careful about moving too quickly:
The real growth of the business, though, lies in shipping out those chilled cartons of food. In the past five years, the business has roughly tripled in size, from about 20 employees to 130. By 2024, the plan, according to Tupper and Federman, is to quintuple from its current size, at a level that is sustainable by the fifth generation of Russes. Most of that growth will be in e-commerce.
Which brings a third challenge, and it’s the one the Russes talk about a lot, which is keeping that growth entirely under tight, tight control. When you make more of everything, it gets tempting to take shortcuts. Bagels come out faster and sweeter if you sugar up the dough to soften it, but then they get swollen and more bready and less bagel-like. “If you take money from investors, or franchise operators, you have to go stand on the sidelines. But we have a certain obligation to three generations of the family,” Federman explains. Tupper jumps in: “You lose something immediate: look, feel, haimishness.” Federman: “You’re scaling up recipes, maybe cutting the cost of ingredients.” Tupper: “Inevitably, as you grow — and you see it with all these companies that grow, although I don’t want to name names — the quality diminishes, because it’s not four places where one person can run around and ask, Is it happening like this?”
One downside for the new location: it's a 20 minute walk from any subway stop (though there are buses from the nearest subway stops). You can learn more about Building 77, a former World War II-era warehouse, and the renovations of the Navy Yard here. (Other food and beverage purveyors inside include Transmitter Brewing, The Food Sermon and We Rub You.) This will mark the fourth Russ & Daughters outpost in the city, including: the main location at 179 E. Houston Street where it has existed since the early 20th century the Lower East Side cafe around the corner, and the Upper East Side outpost at the Jewish Museum.
Russ & Daughters at Brooklyn Navy Yard // Building 77, 141 Flushing Ave Suite 102, Brooklyn, NY 11205
Stream these Passover Picks Read More
A popular theme in television and film, holidays provide the opportunity to explore situations that many of us can relate to. Passover begins on March 27 this year, and the Jewish Museum has put together an eclectic selection of television episodes and movies that feature Passover scenes. Enjoy these selections — from comedies to dramas — available to stream on various platforms.
Image of Andrea Martin in “Difficult People”: Hulu/Photofest ©Hulu
Season 3, Episode 1, 2017
For some, seeing family members at the Seder can be as dreadful as it is delightful. When Julie fails to get antidepressants to get through her family’s dinner, she finds herself armed with only a meditation app against her garrulous aunt.
Watch on Hulu
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Season 5, Episode 7, 2005
Tensions run high when Larry invites the neighborhood pariah to his home for the Seder, putting Passover hospitality to the test.
Watch on HBO Max or Prime Video with HBO Max
Season 3, Episode 6, 2019
On a camping trip during Passover, a group of young women unpack their own encounters with oppression and racism over a retelling of the Exodus story.
Watch on Netflix
Season 1, Episode 9, 2013
Featuring bacon-infused matzoh balls, dinner by a Top Chef reject, and a bike-riding marijuana delivery guy, this episode has everything for the perfect Seder disaster.
Watch on HBO Max or Hulu with HBO Max
Season 1, Episode 23, 2004
When Nana comes to the Seder and has nothing to complain about, everyone knows something is up. As it turns out, she’s keeping a secret — one that causes strife before the Seder.
Watch on HBO Max
“Life Sucks and Then You Die”
Season 3, Episode 7, 2016
Preparations for a Seder lead to a dispute between Rabbi Raquel and the religiously clueless Sarah about the purpose of the holiday and faith.
Watch on Prime Video
Saturday Night Live
“Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy on Passover,” 2013
Watch on NBC.com
“Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy Explains Passover With His Dad,” 2015
Watch on Youtube
Curious what a recent Bar Mitzvah boy has to say about the Passover? Young Jacob thoroughly explains Passover traditions while having a little fun in these short, charming sketches starring Vanessa Bayer.
Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream
An enjoyable documentary about the last family-owned matzo operation in America, and how one family held onto tradition against all odds. A story as much about matzo as the history of the Lower East Side, this story pays homage to a cornerstone of the neighborhood in its last year in NYC.
Watch on ChaiFlicks (with bonus content) or Prime Video
Movies with notable Passover scenes
Directed by Agnieszka Holland
In the midst of a dire crisis, scenes from a Passover Seder surface in the dreams of a young Jewish man hiding as a non-Jewish German orphan in Nazi Germany.
Watch on Criterion Channel
Directed by Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie
This film touches on elements of a contemporary Jewish American Seder: the kids’ table, the photocopied Haggadahs, the post-dinner lounging around. Add in an NBA playoff on the same day and a sports gambling addict played by Adam Sandler, and you have an edgy picture of an American suburban Seder.
Watch on Prime Video or Netflix
Season 3, Episode 23, 1994
Watch on Hulu or Prime Video
When the kids tell Grandpa that they think Passover is a boring holiday, Grandpa tells them the story of the Exodus, and the kids realize how exciting the story is through their own reenactment.
— Aviva Weintraub, Director of the New York Jewish Film Festival and Chie Xu, Intern
Stream these Passover Picks was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Collars Read More
The Jewish Museum highlights Elinor Carucci’s photographs of the iconic collars worn by the late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the anniversary of her birthday.
Today we honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg on what would have been her 88th birthday. After the late US Supreme Court Justice passed away in September 2020, TIME magazine commissioned Elinor Carucci to photograph her celebrated collection of collars. The resulting suite of intimate still life images, “The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Collars,” is now part of the Jewish Museum collection.
Elinor Carucci, “South African Collar: Ginsburg’s favorite collar, worn in her official portrait,” 2020.
This South African beaded collar was Ginsburg’s favorite. She wore it often, including in her official court portrait. The necklace is so iconic that its geometric pattern — which gleamed white against her black judicial robe — is now synonymous with the late Justice herself.
Ginsburg, who was the second-ever woman to sit on the Supreme Court, wore these collars not just to emphasize the overdue feminine energy she brought to the court, but also to encode meaning into her dress — a sartorial strategy practiced by powerful women throughout history. Her early penchant for traditional lace jabots later gave way to necklaces made of beads, shells, and metalwork from around the world, many of them gifts from colleagues and admirers. Seen as a whole, the photographs offer a collective portrait of the late Justice through these objects imbued with Ginsburg’s personal style, values, and relationships.
Image: Wikipedia Commons
Born in 1933 to an immigrant Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, Ginsburg was one of nine women in a class of 500 when she enrolled at Harvard Law she later graduated first in her class from Columbia Law in 1959. Despite her exceptional academic record, as a woman and a mother, she was unable to find a law firm that would hire her at a fair salary. She turned to teaching, becoming the first female professor at Columbia to earn tenure. As director of the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU during the 1970s, she led the fight against gender discrimination and successfully argued six landmark cases before the Supreme Court. In 1993, she was appointed to the Supreme Court herself.
Elinor Carucci, “Majority Collar (2012),” 2020
As a Justice, Ginsburg continued her lifelong advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality. She often noted how the Jewish principle of tikkun olam (repairing the world) guided her work. Over nearly 30 years, she wrote many notable majority opinions that reflected quintessentially liberal views of the law. On the days that these were announced from the bench, she wore this gold and yellow sunburst collar to celebrate her victories.
Elinor Carucci, “Dissent Collar (2012),” 2020
Carucci’s photographs of Ginsburg’s collars serve as a reminder of the late Justice’s determined spirit, as well as an undeniable record of her absence. Nowhere is this tension felt more keenly than in this image of the bejeweled collar Ginsburg famously wore on the days she passionately argued her dissents. This necklace was her battle armor, meant symbolically to protect her, and by extension, the marginalized groups — women, minorities, immigrants, the queer, and disabled — whose rights she championed for over six decades.
The still life series of Ginsburg’s collars is something of a departure for Carucci, an Israeli-American artist whose photographs typically examine intimacy, family, motherhood, and women in moments drawn from her own life. “Yet,” Carucci says, “I still see this project as being just as personal as any of my other work. Ruth Bader Ginsburg held special significance for Jewish women like me who dreamed of living a life that combined career success with tikkun olam. She represented my identity, values, and connection to America. She represents the values I hope to one day hand over to my daughter, [who, like Ginsburg,] is an American Jew, the child of an immigrant.”
— Rebecca Shaykin, Associate Curator, the Jewish Museum
The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Collars was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
New York Jewish Film Festival 2021: Shorts Q&A Series Read More
Part 5: Discussion with Emily Cheeger, director of “Holy Woman” (2020)
Presented virtually by the Jewish Museum and Film at Lincoln Center, the 2021 New York Jewish Film Festival offers a selection of films from around the world that explore the Jewish experience. This year’s program of shorts features works by directors Harvey Wang, Miriam Luc-Berman & Panda Shi Berman, Dhimitër Ismailaj-Valona, Emily Cheeger, and Arkadij Khaet & Mickey Paatzsch. The Jewish Museum caught up with each filmmaker for a brief Q&A.
Still from “Holy Woman,” (2020). Directed by Emily Cheeger.
Emily Cheeger, 2020, USA, 20m
Yiddish with English subtitles
The Jewish Museum: Holy Woman is the result of years of you have spent writing stories about the Hasidic world in Borough Park, Brooklyn, but I understand that you are not from an ultra-Orthodox household yourself. How did you get involved in this community?
Emily Cheeger: In 2013, I moved to New York City to attend the NYU Graduate Film Program. I lived in Brooklyn, where I soon became starkly aware of the deep cultural rift that existed between my neighborhood, Greenpoint, just north of Williamsburg, and the Hasidic community only a few blocks away.
One night after a film shoot, I encountered a stranger who asked for directions to a bar. He had clearly escaped his Hasidic neighborhood of South Williamsburg for a few hours, and our ensuing conversation turned out to be a portentous crossroads for me. I felt a deep need to understand this person and the world he came from. I could tell he was running away from something, but I had no idea what. I wanted to know.
Still from “Holy Woman,” (2020). Directed by Emily Cheeger.
I went home and googled “rebel Hasidim” and fell down a rabbit hole. I discovered a whole new world where integrity and personal freedom were questions of life and death. I decided that I wanted to write screenplays about people such as the person I had just encountered and would never see again. I also knew that in order to do so effectively, I would need to spend years learning about the community, the culture, the language, and the experiences of the people therein. It was a huge commitment, but I pursued it. So, I spent the next several years doing everything I could as an outsider to get to know the community better. I corresponded with people at first, semi-anonymously, and within about a year, started to get to know people in person, particularly those on the fringes of the community. They became some of my closest friends — and many of them still are.
Still from “Holy Woman,” (2020). Directed by Emily Cheeger.
JM: The film is entirely in Yiddish. Did you work exclusively with actors who grew up speaking the language?
EC: Yes, almost exclusively. It was really important to me to cast people who grew up in the culture, speaking the language and wearing the clothing, so that they could make up for any gaps in my knowledge. There are so many nuances to Hasidic culture that the accent with which you speak can vary even from block to block within a neighborhood. So can the details in your garb or head covering.
I also really wanted my actors to be already intimately familiar with the customs, prayers, and the body language that the characters would have, without my having to instruct them. As an outsider, I was committed to bringing in people who would help me to create something that was greater than the sum of its parts. A lot of films have been made in pseudo-Hasidic settings and the lack of attention to detail in those films always felt exploitative to me. Over the years, I have worked to build the capacity to tell these stories as authentically as I can.
Still from “Holy Woman,” (2020). Directed by Emily Cheeger.
JM: You’ve said that one motivation for making Holy Woman is that you find representations of Hasidic culture in film and media to be overly monolithic or reductive. With that in mind, what were some of your goals with this particular film, narrative or otherwise?
EC: It boils down to me wanting to be a worthy mouthpiece for the stories of these people that I have been so involved with over the years. The goal of any good film is to create deeper compassion for humanity to spend time in another’s shoes to communicate something truthful. The twist is that after writing a whole feature script that was dogmatically realistic, I decided to tell a shorter story that could be truthful in its essence, while also being fantastical.
JM: Once the protagonist Neshama begins her mystical transformation, she is caught in a bind: she presents as both a man and a woman, but she lives in a conservative society that makes this seemingly impossible (her husband even refers to her, quite cruelly, as a “mixed up mish-mash of a creature”). I wonder if there are discussions about feminism and gender in Jewish Orthodoxy — whether more theoretical, or anecdotal — that have influenced you.
EC: There are a lot of religious legal traditions and paradoxes that influenced the development of Holy Woman, as well as some more personal spiritual questions I was interested in about the nature of the soul, identity, and consciousness. One of the core Talmudic concepts of the story is that of kol isha b’erva — the nakedness of a woman’s voice. This notion dictates that the singing voice of a woman, heard in public, is the equivalent of seeing her naked. It is unchaste, unseemly, perhaps even obscene.
In the Hasidic community, where the singing voices of men are ubiquitous, dominant, exalted, and inescapable, this double standard is heightened. As such, the female voice is a powerful tool and metaphor through which to explore integrity and identity in the Hasidic world. As a singer myself, one of the hardest things for me to reconcile with Orthodox law is the conflict I felt around this concept. But I was more interested in asking questions than offering answers.
Still from “Holy Woman,” (2020). Directed by Emily Cheeger.
JM: Could you talk about the role of humor as a device in your storytelling process?
EC: I think humor is a great way to talk about difficult things in a way that makes them approachable. Humor is also a huge part of Jewish culture — whether you grow up secular or religious — so it was an instinctive choice. It’s a great unifier, and an inextricable element of satire, which plays a big role in this film, which I think of as an affectionate satire. Aside from that, I’m also deeply influenced by the Modernist humor of authors such as Mikhail Bulgakov, Vladimir Nabokov, and Gary Shteyngart and there’s a long tradition of magical realist satire in the Judeo-Slavic diaspora. It must be in my blood.
Emily Cheeger is the director of Holy Woman. This year’s program of shorts is available Jan. 20 at noon ET to Jan. 23 at noon ET: Get Tickets
— Madeline Weisburg, Curatorial Assistant, the Jewish Museum
New York Jewish Film Festival 2021: Shorts Q&A Series was originally published in The Jewish Museum on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Russ & Daughters
After more than a century on the Lower East Side, Russ & Daughters, the New York City culinary landmark famous for their bagels and lox, smoked fish, and traditional baked goods opened a restaurant and take-out appetizing counter at the Jewish Museum, on the Upper East Side. Presenting appetizing classics with timeless appeal in the Museum&rsquos beautiful and historic setting, it&rsquos a match that is, as they say, bashert (meant-to-be)!
Igor Stravinsky, Musicians, and Dancers
Russian-born composer Igor Stravinsky is considered one the most influential figures in music of the 20th century. He came to the United States in 1939, and became a citizen in 1945. A frequent muse to Maira Kalman, she also featured his name in her series of books about Max the Dog Poet, which are available at the Jewish Museum Shop. Stravinsky died in New York, at the age of 88 in 1971.
“I don’t know if he ever ate at Russ & Daughters,” said Kalman. “But he might have!
“The drama and the romance of performance is an intersection with food and looking at the history of anything,” said Kalman of her unexpected source of inspiration. “I found an opportunity to put in musicians, dancers, and other characters sitting in cafes in Eastern Europe. They were the faces of people I saw at the restaurant or at the store, or the faces of people who should have been there.”
Russ & Daughters Cafe has hosted a variety of private events including weddings, cocktail parties, holiday celebrations, corporate events, family gatherings, business meetings, and birthday dinners. At this time we are not able to book new events due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the uncertainty of our own timeline for reopening indoor dining.
Russ & Daughters Opening Cafe On Upper East Side
The Upper West Side has Zabar's and now the Upper East Side will have Russ & Daughters. The New York Times is reporting that the downtown institution has plans to open up a satellite cafe inside the Jewish Museum on 5th Avenue at 92nd Street. "We realized that it’s the perfect new home," explained fourth-generation owner Niki Russ Federman. "We're both important cultural institutions. We want to preserve tradition yet move ahead, so there's a synergy in our values."
The lower level cafe will feature some of the classic eats associated with the flagship, including smoked fish and their accoutrements the cafe will also feature a retail counter. As things head uptown they're also changing a bit: the food will be kosher. Admission to the Museum will not be required to dine at the cafe, though the excellent exhibitions are worth a visit.
When the cafe opens in early 2015, this will be the second major expansion for the 100-year-old shop following their new cafe that opened earlier this year. For the Museum's part, they're looking to "make Jewish hip," according to the Museum's director.
The Fascinating Story Behind ‘Russ & Daughters’, On Exhibit Now
That’s the feeling after noshing on “Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story”, a compact exhibition that opened this week at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.
Russ & Daughters, of course, is the “appetizing store” that’s been hawking smoked fish, pickles, and noshes from the same Lower East Side perch since 1907. Under the direction of Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper - fourth-generation owners of the business - Russ & Daughters has mushroomed, with a sleek outpost at the Jewish Museum and a huge commercial operation at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
There’s a fascinating story behind the business, and anyone who’s read Mark Russ Federman’s Russ & Daughters memoir knows the shop carries decades of lore, stories, and gossip. The exhibition skims the surface, but you walk away feeling there’s an even bigger tale to tell behind this iconic Jewish enterprise.
The show runs along three walls in a gallery off the Center’s lobby. Curator Annie Polland, the executive director of the American Jewish Historical Society, dug deep into AJHS’ archives for images and audio, and cajoled Niki Russ Federman into sharing family memorabilia, some of which had never been made public.
“Annie had to convince me to do it,” Federman told the Forward during a walk-through of the show. “I was skeptical - it was, ‘here’s some boxes we kept’. She and her team went through them and found things we didn’t know we had, like an audio cassette we didn’t even know existed.” The tape contained a conversation with her grandmother, who talked about her own entrepreneurial aspirations before joining the family business.
“This show explores the idea that you have to be aware where you’re coming from,” Polland said. “Niki and Josh are conscious of where they’re coming from in how they run the business. And the exhibition pushes people to think about their own stories and take meaning from them.”
The exhibition offers a chronological history of the business, including a brief history of “appetizing” stores (as opposed to delis the museum’s PR firm sent journalists a paragraph instructing us to use the term “appetizing”). Wall panels explore the Russ & Daughters experience, from taking a number to the sensory overload that still greets every customer who walked through the Houston Street doors.
Lower East Side Jewish history also gets a glimpse, as does the Russ’ family tree and the current state of the business (“We really don’t want to screw it up”, says Josh Russ Tupper on one panel). Only in the exhibition’s final section does it tip into promotional language (“In 2019 they opened an 18,000 square foot base of operations at the Brooklyn Navy Yard complete with a bakery, kitchens, private event space, appetizing counter and nationwide shipping facility… From the Navy Yard, packages ship to every state in the country”).
An Instagram-ready pop-up booth near the last exhibition panel replicates the Russ & Daughters store counter, complete with white jackets for museum patrons to don while snapping photos. “This is definitely a crossover show,” Polland said. “Even when we were setting up, with a barrier around the walls, people were pushing to get in.”
Polland and the American Jewish Historical Society nailed it by recognizing the cultural and culinary significance of Russ & Daughters. “For so many people, even if they’re not Jewish, this is New York City to them,” Polland said. But it feels like there’s a bigger show hidden inside this abbreviated exhibition. The food itself, the immigrants - now mostly Latino - who staff the business, the Yiddish-theater connections, the family dynamics, the changing Lower East Side, “appetizing” food’s conquest of the mainstream….. Each thread contains multitudes of stories.
The show’s expected to travel, and maybe it’ll expand. In the meantime, “Russ & Daughters: An Appetizing Story” will have to tide you over.
To Spoon: Drawn to an Austere Granola
I would bypass the clunky, excessively sweet granolas that rule the day in favor of this rather austere mixture from the Odeon, an exceptional standout. It is mostly toasted oats with some nuts and seeds tossed with olive oil, mellowed with honey and maple syrup, and given an alluring whisper of sea salt. It’s magical on yogurt: Odeon Granola, $2.99 for two ounces, $9.99 for 12 ounces at Gourmet Garage stores and at the Odeon, 145 West Broadway (Duane Street).